The 4-Hour Work Week – Timothy Ferriss

As you can guess from its title, this is one of the more extreme lifestyle manifestos around.  A glimpse into the mindset of the author: with minimal training, and maximum rule-bending, Ferriss won the 1999 Chinese Kickboxing Championships. He shed 2 stone through controlled dehydration for the weigh-in the day before the match, then immediately ‘hyperhydrated’ to be 3 weight classes above his opponents. In The 4-Hour Work Week he shows us how he has applied his ingenuity to pull off some equally impressive lifestyle stunts.

While you may already have ditched the 9-5, Ferriss will nudge you to take freedom a stage further.  He argues strongly for taking extended breaks from work, or “mini-retirements”, instead of “binge travelling” once a year.  His case studies demonstrate how people from all backgrounds, and with different incomes, have shaped seemingly unattainable international lifestyles.  It is exciting to read how anyone can live a life of luxury if they’re willing to think outside of the box.  This book has got us wondering about reinstating the 18th century-style educational Grand Tour for our families.

We’re also impressed with Ferriss’s formula for reevaluating wealth. If you earn £20,000 a year, but work a 10 hour week, you are deemed richer than someone who earns £40,000 a year but works a 36 hour week. For the tribe of “New Rich”, quality time and control are the chief indicators of success.  Ferriss has many time-management tips for us.  For example, he advocates filtering out nuisance clients and answering email only once a week.  While we may not wish to take such extreme measures, we are at least reminded that it is a good idea to message-check daily instead of 20 times daily.[/one_half]

However, much like his sportsmanship, some of Ferriss’s notions around the “outsourcing” of drudgery are a little unconvincing. Obviously, if you earn £35 per hour, it makes sense to pay someone a tenner per hour to do the ironing. But the suggestion that you might hire a “virtual assistant” based in India to email clients and buy your mother’s birthday present is another level of delegation altogether.  And as Tony Hseih argues in “Delivering Happiness”, the more you outsource, the more you risk diluting your brand.

“The 4-Hour Work Week”, with its brazen tone and left field advice, may not be to everyone’s taste but Tim Ferriss has some truly innovative ideas to offer.  If you implement them you will surely access, as the blurb puts it, “a new way of living”. But you’ll need guts.